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Action Research

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lisa ratchford

on 20 January 2015

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Transcript of Action Research

Action Research
Action Research
Sagor (2011) defines action research as “any investigation conducted by the person or the people empowered to take action concerning their own actions, for the purpose of improving their future actions” (p. 5). Sagor goes on to explain that it is important to differentiate action research from other types of educational research. To do this, he states, you must ask yourself the following three questions:
1. “Is the focus on your professional action?
2. Are you empowered to adjust future action based on the results?
3. Is improvement possible?” (p. 5-6).
If the answer is “yes” to all three of the questions, then action is the most likely type of research that will occur.

Collect Data

For a researcher to collect data, Sagor (2011) suggests that it should be asked "what data will I need to collect if I am to understand the effectiveness of my theory of action?" (p. 7).

Select a Focus
Reflect and Take Action
Analyze and Interpret Data
Lisa Ratchford
American Public University
Dr. Theresa Capra

There are two categories of action research:

1. Descriptive research- When researchers seek to understand what is occurring.

2. Quasi-experimental research- When the researchers are trying to test a hypothesis.
(Sagor, 2011, p. 7)
For a researcher to select a focus, Sagor (2011) suggests that it should be asked "what do I want to accomplish?" (p. 6).
Narrowing down a focus can be a daunting task. To prevent the researcher from becoming overwhelmed, Altrichter, et al (2008) suggests several exercises to help with this task including "slice of life" (p. 36) and "warm up your research muscles (p. 37).
"An informal, two-part piece of writing. The first part is a detailed narrative of an event that occurred in your practice. The second part of the slice of life is a reflection on the first part”.
Slice of Life
Warm Up Your Research Muscles
1. Select one of next week's lessons. Write a memo about the course of events in your journal. Include all thoughts that come to your mind during reflecting and writing.

2. Tape one of next week's lessons. Select 5 minutes of the tape for transcription. Leave a margin for comments. Then, note in the margin all associations that come to your mind when reading specific sections.

3. Prepare a cluster of all associations that come to your mind when you think of the phrase "Being a teacher".

4. Every day next week cut out from a newspaper some words, phrases or pictures that you intuitively like or that you spontaneously feel concern your profession. At the end of the week prepare a collage from the cuttings.

5. Imagine an extraterrestrial visitor entering your classroom from the top left corner without being noticed by anybody in the room. Describe what he/she would see and think.
Choose one of the following exercises
(Altrichter, et al, 2008, p. 37)

(Altrichter, et al, 2008, p. 37)
There are four stages to action research.

1. Select a focus

2. Collect data

3. Analyze and interpret data

4. Take action

(Glanz, 2014, p. 20-22)
Once a researcher has narrowed down a focus, they will need to clarify the starting point. Altrichter, et al (2008) recommends several strategies to achieve this goal such as “Conversation with a Critical Friend” (p. 76) and “The Starting Point Speech” (p. 76).
Conversation with a Critical Friend
The researcher converses with a colleague on what they perceive to be an issue they are having in their classroom or have noticed occurring throughout the school.
Write and present “your thoughts and ideas about your starting point. The audience for the speech should be your research group, critical friend or possibly other interested colleagues. We suggest that it be a short speech in which you explain why your starting point is important to your practice”.
Starting Point Speech
(Altrichter, et al, 2008, p. 76)
Using the techniques suggested by Altrichter, et al (2008), I was able to clarify and narrow down my research focus. This enabled me to choose a target and pose my question.
Will incorporating a token economy improve the behavior of a student with ASD?
Collecting data will not be such a challenging task if the researcher incorporates several exercises suggested by Altrichter, et al (2008). Data triangulation and quantification are two examples that can be used to collect data.
Altrichter, H., Feldman, Posch, & Somekh. (2008). Teachers investigate their work: An introduction to action research across the professions (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.

American Public University. (2014). EDUC698 Capstone: Action Research. Retrieved from https://edge.apus.edu/portal/site/265185/page/731e51fd-dbcf-4d11-891d-bd429f925d8e

Glanz, J. (2014). Action research: An educational leader's guide to school improvement (Third ed.). Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Diehl, Guion, & McDonald. (2013). Triangulation: Establishing the validity of qualitative studies. Retrieved from http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy394

Sagor, R. (2011). The action research guidebook: A four-stage process for educators and school teams (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin.
Data Triangulation
Diehl, Guion and McDonald (2013) state that data triangulation “involves using different sources of information in order to increase the validity of a study” (p. 1).
Sagor (2011) asserts that building a data-collection strategy starts by “taking one research question at a time and then asking this question: What is a source of data that could be efficiently collected that would provide good information to illuminate the answer to this question?” (p. 112).

Altrichter, et al (2008) asserts that "to quantify something is to measure it and can be useful to provide information that helps you to describe your situation, to carry out a preliminary survey and get some data quickly, to reveal prejudices, and to explore the generalizability of findings” (p. 170-171).
Example of data triangulation that could be used for my research question.
Example of how
can be used for my research project:
a) percentage of times student called out during class:
b) percentage of times I had to ask student to sit correctly:
c) percentage of times I had to ask student to hold trumpet correctly.
"When analyzing action research data, your goal is to accomplish two things:
1. Trace any and all changes inperformance that occurred in the effort to reach your priority achievement targets.
2. Understand the pertinent factors or circumstances that contributed to those changes."
(Sagor, 2011, p. 127)
Analyzing data can be an overwhelming task. However, if the researcher incorporates data analysis exercises, this task will be manageable. Sagor, 2011, suggests "qualitatitve data analysis using bins and a matrix" (p. 153) and Altrichter, et al, 2008, suggests "making data summaries" (p. 162).
Qualitative Data Analysis Using Bins and Matrix
“The bins and matrix strategy is a process of sorting and resorting qualitative action research data to identify and contrast tendencies and patterns as they evolve in a particular context”.
1. Determine what bins or categories you deem to be most relevant and will later use for sorting your data.
2. Create factoids from the information in the bins.
3. Sift the data using a matrix.
4. Summarize and draw tentative conclusions.
5. Use member checking to add credibility to your findings.
Sagor, 2011, p. 153
Sagor, 2011, p. 157-162
Use the five steps below to analyze data using bins and matrix
Data Summaries
Altrichter, et al, 2008 states "it is helpful to review data immediately after they have been collected and write a summary, both to provide easy access to the data later and to get an overview of what they offer concerning the research question" (p. 162).
Use the questions below to create a data summary
1. What is the context in which the data were collected? Why were they collected? Why in this particular situation? Why use this method of collection?
2. What are the most important facts in the data? Is anything surprising?
3. About which research issue are the data most informative?
4. Do the data give rise to any new questions, points of view, suggestions or ideas?
5. Do the data suggest what should be done next, in terms of further data collection, analysis or action?
Altrichter, et al, 2008, p. 162
Example of Qualitative Data Matrix using bins
Reasons Why Tokens
Were Taken Away
Reasons Why Tokens
Were Given
Reasons Why Tokens
Were Taken Away
Attitude Toward Token
Economy- Student
Attitude Toward Token
Economy- Parent
Attitude Toward Token
Economy- Teacher
Attitude Toward Token Economy-
Different Teacher(s) of Same Student
Examples of
Qualitative bins
After the researcher has chosen a topic, collected data, and analyzed and interpreted the data, a
literature review
must be conducted. "The idea behind a literature review is to build a case for your topic being relevant. What do we already know about the topic? What foundational research is out there that is being used to drive instruction and/or policy" (EDUC 698, 2014)? The researcher should cite books, scholarly journals, and websites.
Berger-Gross, P., & Mottram, L. (2004). An intervention to reduce disruptive behaviours [sic] in
children with brain injury. Pediatric Rehabilitation, 7(2), 133-143. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy2.apus.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=37b00f21-b928-4fd0-8b80-64c35d32ea97%40sessionmgr112&vid=15&hid=123

This journal reviewed the effectiveness of employing token economy on children with brain injuries. Specifically, the researchers wanted to determine if token economy would reduce disruptive behaviors. The study utilized a multiple baseline design on three male students in a rehabilitation hospital identified as having a brain injury and as being disruptive in a classroom setting. The authors discovered that disruptive behavior among the focus students decreased by more than half once token economy was implemented. In addition, the authors noted that token economy was well received by the focus students and by the remainder of the class as well. This led to long term behavioral improvements from the entire class
Example of Scholarly Journal Literature Review
Leaf, R., McEachin, J., & Taubman, M. (2012). Token economy systems (Vol. 4). New York, New York: DRL Books.

The authors of this book consulted with the Autism Partnership to discern the most effective method of instituting a token economy with students with ASD. The opening sentence of the book states “At Autism Partnership, we have found the development and implementation of individualized token economy systems to be a powerful tool in accelerating progress for our students” (Leaf, et al, 2012, p. 1). The book then goes on to discuss student objectives and the advantages of token economy such as “provides differential feedback, reduces satiation, and can develop into a self-monitoring system” (p. 7). The authors give suggestions on how to improve token economy if the system does not seem to be working and then discusses six phases of token economy. Finally, the book discusses the different types of token economy such as “differential, competition and response cost” (p. 20) and talk about how to eventually fade out and eliminate token economy.

Example of Book Literature Review
Example of Website Literature Review
McIntyre, T. (n.d.). Classroom behavior management strategies. Retrieved from http://www.behavioradvisor.com/oldindex.html

In this website, “Dr. Mac” discusses numerous intervention strategies for a myriad of misbehaviors. Each link redirects the reader to a step-by-step process on how to implement a specific behavior intervention for a specific misbehavior. Concerning token economy, “Dr. Mac” (n.d.) states “One of the most commonly used behavior management interventions, especially in settings for students who have learning or behavioral challenges, is the token economy system” (p. 1). The author then goes on to state the benefits of token economy and lists the procedures for implementing such a program. In addition, an example is given of how token economy was implemented for one student and how successful the program was. The student was a 12 year old girl who exhibited several undesirable behaviors; the most noted was her tendency to yell in class. Her teachers employed token economy and after a month, the yelling in class significantly decreased. Her parents were so impressed with the girl’s progress that they decided to institute token economy in the home as well and achieved the same positive results. The link on token economy ends with eight thought provoking activity and discussion questions such as “A parent views your token economy as bribery. How do you respond to this parent?” (McIntyre, n.d., p. 1).
For a researcher to reflect on the data and to plan informed action, Sagor (2011) suggests that it should be asked "Based on this data, how should I adjust my future actions (teaching)?" (p. 7).
In addition, Altrichter, et al (2008) states that "the process of reporting practitioners’ knowledge increases the quality of reflection on practice.
While analyzing my data, I will make a few discoveries concerning my research. Three possible findings include:

1. Token economy is effective in changing the behavior of a student diagnosed with ASD.
2. Calling out behavior increases when I can not give an immediate, tangible reinforcer.
3. The student may lose interest in token economy.

Actions to take if token economy proves to be an effective behavior management technique:
1. Make no changes and eventually wean student off token economy according to token economy guidelines.
2. Use token economy manage the behavior of other students.
3. Show data to other teachers of the same student and suggest they incorporate token economy in their classrooms.
Actions to take if token economy increases calling out behaviors
1. Restrict privileges (ex. last student to leave class, another student gets to turn off lights when needed).
2. Stern look and raise hand (our agreed upon signal when he needs to settle down) and/or call student's name with raised hand.
Actions to take if student looses interest in token economy:
1. Re-evaluate target behaviors (possibly too many, too hard to achieve).
2. Allow student several opportunities to earn tokens in one class period.
3. Change reward system and/or tokens once a month.
Making Results Public for Reflection
1. Inform student's mother of token economy results.
2. Discuss results with critical friend colleague.
3. Discuss results at faculty meeting on mandated professional development days.
Take Action
1. If token economy is effective, document and store all data for future reference if the technique needs to be used again in the future.
2. Develop professional development workshops available county-wide to train other teachers in token economy.
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